This is a rant about Make-Up. It is Not Really About the Movie.
Erin Krakow plays a ranch woman in this movie who applies her makeup like she is behind the cosmetic counter at Macy’s. She brags that she gets up at 5am to do the chores. And surely one of those chores is getting her face on. In general, I think most Hallmark actresses wear too much make-up. But at least many of the characters they play meet the public as shopkeepers, are on television, or have important jobs in big corporations where professional dress and at least an effort to show an effort to be well-groomed is part of the image you want to project.
But a woman who does physical labor all day outdoors? Who in an average day only meets her 2 employees and their little girl? Why the 3 shades of eyeshadow, lipstick, and heavy blusher? Wasn’t she afraid those false eyelashes put her in danger of toppling over into a haystack? What happened to false eyelashes that looked somewhat natural? The ones these days look like awnings and are so obviously phony they detract and distract rather than enhance. And she has the nerve to mock Ryan Paevey for his inappropriate outfits? And call him a city slicker? Look in the mirror, lady. And what’s with the tops that are so tight, she looks like she’s going to bust out of them any second? Again, OK for some professions, like weather-girl or presenter on ESPN, but a rancher?
We’ve all rolled our eyes at old-timey historical dramas where the actresses’ hair and makeup ignore the reality of the times and circumstances of their characters. Come on, Hallmark. This isn’t Death Valley Days or Bonanza. We know better now, don’t we? Many popular Hallmark actresses are rapidly approaching or have stepped over the 40-year-old mark. That is not a bad thing, unless they are dealing with circumstances more in line with a 25-year-old character. All the make-up does not disguise their age, it just emphasizes that they are trying to hide something. A natural fresh face=youth, to state the obvious.
Other than that, thanks to the gorgeous scenery and Ryan Paevey, this was a fairly pleasant diversion. Erin was OK. She is a pretty good actress despite her usual mannerisms. The plot was right out of the Hallmark “save the _______ from the big corporation” playbook.
This is a genuinely amusing little variation on the usual Hallmark template. It starts off with all of the clichés in place: Nice girl gets dumped before the holidays when she is expected to bring the dumper to meet the family for the first time. she can’t bear the humiliation or to disappoint them so she falls in with a plan to substitute an actor to impersonate the architect “Mr. Christmas” ex-boyfriend. He is a born and bred New York City actor who is anxious to visit a small town to get a feel for a role he is up for. One problem. He is Jewish and can’t even build a gingerbread house. The chemistry between the charming leads was great, there was some ample support from veteran actors Bruce Boxleitner and Teri Rothery. And the talented Anna Van Hooft, who usually plays the villain in Hallmark movies, does a credible job in a throwaway part as the supportive sister, for a change. And let’s not forget the contribution by a Hallmark stalwart Peter Benson as the brother-in-law and all of his helpful advice.
This was a nice romance with some good laughs fueled by the tension of when will the truth come out, and what will happen then, and the cluelessness of fake fiancee Joel, played with aplomb by newcomer Matt Cohen.
One of the best this year. Hallmark Christmas movie fans: Don’t miss it!
Mom gets Burned by the Boyfriend, Sees the Light, and Drinks Eggnog
I love the Hallmarks where a hero or heroine we like is not appreciated by their family or their boss and is not treated as well as they deserve. We know that, with the help of the love interest, they will finally be appreciated and valued. It always makes a nice satisfying sub-plot to the romance, which is, of course, the main event. Thinking back, many of my favorite hallmark movies have this element. Mingle All the Way does, and they do it very well. I guess I’m just a sucker for comeuppances and nice people prevailing over mean people.
I loved the chemistry between Jen Lilly and Brant Dougherty. The plot device used to get them together was clever and really worked. Molly has to personally test out her new app which, instead of matching couples interested in romance, it finds the perfect “plus-one” for functions for those with no time or interest in a relationship. The writers did a good job of making the viewer understand their initial antagonism with the fight over the angel ornament. They really invested me in their situations by making you root for them by well-written antagonists that you loved to hate. Also, the viewer sympathizes with them being focused on their goals, while all their family and co-workers are interested in is whether or not they have a boyfriend or girlfriend. How disrespectful!
The scene where our hero really tells off her mother was a gem. And I loved the way the angel came back into play in that scene as well. He was truly a knight in shining armor. Lindsay Wagner did a great job with making us really dislike her. She was terrifying. And then, after the hero told her a few home truths, showing us a sincere change of heart. I loved the way the eggnog played into that: very good writing. That whole scene at Molly’s house was worth the price of admission. I wish we had had more of it.
And the same goes with Jeff’s work troubles. She took a less proactive approach with helping him in that department, but she had his back as well as he had hers. And it did the trick. I love the way his rival was taken down. What a jerk and contemptible human being! Good writing and acting on the villain’s part. I just wish Molly had done the taking down.
The only low point was Molly’s silly petulant overreaction to Jeff meeting his ex by chance at a party. But that’s par for the course in Hallmark romance. It’s a plus when it’s avoided. All in all, though, one of the best this year.**8 out of 10**
Thanks to the excellent acting of all concerned, especially the two leads, this was a very enjoyable little movie. The gimmick in this one was amnesia. This is not one of the usuals. A stressed-out and manipulated best-selling young adult author makes her getaway right before she is about to be interviewed on TV. Yes, she leaves everyone in the lurch at the last minute, very unprofessionally, I might add. She has an automobile accident and gets amnesia. In order to give her a week or two without her memory for a story and a romance to develop, the viewer is called upon to suspend their disbelief for a bit. She is a world-famous author who was about to be on the red carpet for a world premiere of a movie based on one of her novels. And no one except her sister and her boyfriend/manager knows she is missing. Add to that, the police do not search for a car which should have been found in hours as a tree fell across the road where her car drove into a gully. Big red flashing arrow there, officers. Of course, her cell phone and all the clues to her identity are left in her car.
Oh well, these are the little things you just have to roll with when looking at a Hallmance. The degree of watchability rests largely on the appeal of the leads and secondary characters, and, based on this, it was a win. The actress, Julia Gonzalo, reminded me of another actress, and it was driving me crazy until I figured it out: A little-known in America English actress, Charity Wakefield. Looked just like her.
I liked the widowed doctor as portrayed by Benjamin Ayers as well. Very likable guy. Pleasant scenery, gentle romance, nothing much to mock. The amnesia trick added some suspense and interest as well. I loved the way the set decorators stuck fake orange leaves in random places as well to convey the Fall theme. Very amusing. Well worth watching.**8 stars out of 10**